WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the nominations of Errol Arthur, Kendra Briggs, and Carl Ross to serve as Associate Judges on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Portman highlighted the need to address the continued criminal case backlog which has doubled since 2020 as well as the crime surge occurring in the District of Columbia. So far this year, there have already been more armed robberies and homicides than there were by this time last year. Portman stated that by addressing the case backlog, the D.C. courts would ensure timely justice, not just for victims but also for defendants.
A transcript of his opening remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the three nominees for being here today and your willingness to step forward. We’re considering you as nominees for Associate Judges to the D.C. Superior Court. Each of you have spent part of your career already in public service, and if confirmed, you will be doing something very important, which is to serve the people of D.C., but also get the backlog down and deal with a public safety crisis in the District.
“Like a lot of large cities, D.C. is experiencing a crime surge. There have been over 200 more armed robberies this year than last year at this time. There have also been more homicides this year than there were at the same time last year. Part of this is something happening nationally, but I think part of it is exacerbated by the backlog here in D.C..
“At the beginning of this year, there were more than 10,000 criminal cases pending. That’s more than double the number from 2020 as an example. COVID clearly played a part in that. And I appreciate the fact that the court system was trying to help reduce the spread of COVID, but I also appreciate that they’ve now resumed in-person proceedings, which should help alleviate that backlog.
“If the nominees are confirmed, you will be responsible for ensuring timely justice, which is important obviously to the victims and to defendants. And again, I think it’s part of improving public safety in D.C., so I look forward to talking to you about that during this process.
“Rising crime in D.C. and the case backlog are just two of the important reasons why we need impartial and qualified judges on the D.C. Superior Court. I look forward to hearing from all three of you today. Thank you Mr. Chairman.”